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Blind Date

For those with vague memories of the 1980s, Bruce Willis's career is fairly easy to track — he first gained fame in the popular ABC-TV series Moonlighting, and then achieved instant superstardom in 1988's Die Hard — he's been on the Hollywood A-list ever since. But those with more astute recollections know that Bruno's first big-screen break was Blake Edwards' 1987 Blind Date, a film that potentially could have derailed his budding movie career and left him in TV-land had that Die Hard contract not already been signed. Willis stars as Walter Davis, a Los Angeles yuppie businessman with a great job, a cool car, and plans to get a condo. Walter's employer, a financial firm, is planning to close a substantial deal with a Japanese corporation, but Walter can't find a date for an important social dinner with the two companies. Thus, he turns to his brother Ted (Phil Hartman), a slippery used-car dealer, who recommends his wife's cousin, Nadia (Kim Basinger), recently relocated to L.A. from Baton Rouge. Walter is hesitant, but has little choice but to accept the blind date, and he is pleasantly surprised to find that Nadia's a real looker. The only problem is that Walter has been warned to not let Nadia drink — a warning he ignores, with dire results. Blind Date is a typical Blake Edwards movie, which is to say that it features plenty of pratfalls, sight gags, and awkward moments. But it's not one of his better ones, and the monotone plot undermines the talents of largely likable cast. As Nadia, Basinger lays on that southern accent when she's soused, but her boozy antics not only humiliate Walter, but make the viewers despise her — a lot. Willis is an agreeable lead, but in too many circumstances he's merely cringing or exasperated by the many embarrassing situations (Nadia makes a ruckus at the corporate dinner; Nadia causes a brawl in a disco; Nadia is blitzed while David is mugged by punk-rocker girls). The second half of the film opts for a more dynamic premise, as Nadia plans to marry smarmy attorney David (John Larroquette) while Walter re-examines his life after getting fired, all leading to a conclusion ripped from Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934) — but it's hard to care. Blind Date only has apocryphal value as a look at Bruno's nascent, smirking persona, Basinger's stab at comedy after her steamy turn in 9-1/2 Weeks (1986), and the charms of John Larroquette, Phil Hartman, and William Daniels, all successful TV stars who made little impact on feature films. But as a comedy, its chief claim to fame may be the greatest number of people falling into swimming pools in a single movie, while cameo performances by jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan and pop-band Billy and the Beaters serve to remind us that we are, after all, smack-dab in the heart of the '80s. Columbia TriStar's Blind Date DVD features a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) from a serviceable source print, and DD 5.1 audio (French 2.0 and an array of subtitles are also on board). The theatrical trailer features an original bit with Willis pitching the film by way of making a phone call from jail. Keep-case.

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